034 - What is Computer Data

Data is any sequence of symbols given meaning by specific acts of interpretation. Digital data is the quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, stored and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media, and transmitted in the form of electrical signals.

Computer data is information processed or stored by a computer. This information may be in the form of text documents, images, musics, movies, application programs, or other types of data. Computer data may be processed by the computer's CPU and is stored in files and folders on the computer's hard disk.

Computer data is information required by the computer to be able to operate. It is used to:

Run programs, this is the actual executable program data that the computer will execute to run the program. Store program or system configuration information. Store information that the computer user needs such as text files or other files that are associated with the program the computer user is running.

Data Structure

Computer data is in what is called binary format. This means that it is always a 0 or a 1. It only has these two states and must be in one of them.

There are several fundamental data units which include:

Bit • A data unit which must be in one of the two binary states described above. It is the smallest data unit that exists.
Byte • 8 bits of data which has a possible value from 0 to 255.
Word • Two bytes or 16 bits of data with a possible unsigned value from 0 to 16535.

Data Transmission

Data transmission is the act of sending data from one place to another. Data is transmitted both inside and outside your computer. There are two fundamental methods of data transmission.

Serial • Data is sent on a single line and one bit is sent at at a time. This is similar to a line which one item must come one after another.
Parallel • Data is sent on more than one line at a time. This may be any number of bits at a time, but is usually two bytes at a time or possibly three bytes at a time.


A database is a system for storing and taking care of data. A database engine can sort, change or serve the information on the database. A database system is a computer program for managing electronic databases.

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